A Blagger's Guide To: Books about Margaret Thatcher

Why the Iron Lady's passing is a boon to publishers

In what a Waterstones spokesman called "a true Thatcher effect on sales", the industry reported a huge spike in demand for all books by, and about, Margaret Thatcher in the week after her death. The two volumes of her memoir, The Downing Street Years and Path to Power (HarperPress, £12.99 each), have seen respective week-on-week increases of 750 per cent and 860 per cent at Waterstones.

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Thatcher's own favourite author was Frederick Forsyth, whose spy thrillers she confessed to enjoying just before bed. "She … loved it that a Mrs Thatcher was in the books," explained Forsyth in 2001. "Most Prime Ministers have a soft spot for the security services, for whom they have a special responsibility," wrote Nigel Lawson in his memoir The View from No.11: Memoirs of a Tory Radical. "But Margaret, an avid reader of ... Frederick Forsyth, was positively besotted by them."

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In her memoir, Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter (Weidenfeld & Nicolson), Antonia Fraser reveals that she and Pinter voted for Thatcher in 1979, and supported the Falklands war. "It was idiotic," he later said. "Infantile, on my part".

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In Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty, the hero Nick Guest dances with Thatcher at a party, to The Rolling Stones' "Get Off of My Cloud".

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Gillian Shephard's The Real Iron Lady was published last month. Among other insights, it tells the story of Thatcher and an adviser working late into the night on a speech, before the Prime Minister ran the adviser a bath and put a hot water bottle in her bed.

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Charles Moore's Margaret Thatcher: the Authorized Biography Volume One: Not For Turning will finally be allowed free of the printer's blocks, having been commissioned in 1997 on the condition that it would only be published after her death. Moore is currently writing the second volume, Herself Alone.

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The two volumes of Thatcher's own memoirs were re-released last week as a single, abridged volume with the new title Margaret Thatcher: The Autobiography.

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Damian Barr's Maggie and Me describes growing up in the Scottish industrial town of Ravenscraig It was due out in May but has been brought forward to 25 April. It opens with young Damian and his mother watching news of the Brighton bomb: "The Grand Hotel survives. So does Maggie. So will I."

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Tindal Street Press will also move forward the paperback release of Anthony Cartwright's How I Killed Margaret Thatcher, which had been due in August.

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